Paris bars, restaurants may close Monday, warns minister
The capital city and the departments of its inner suburbs will be placed in the maximum alert zone if coronavirus figures are confirmed at the weekend.
Health Minister Olivier Véran said that Paris had, in the past few hours, crossed the threshold into “maximum alert zone” in all three indicators used to gauge departments’ alert level.
According to a new five-tier alert system that Mr Véran announced last week, a department will be placed in the “maximum alert zone” if:
The number of positive cases of the virus per 100,000 residents (incidence rate) is greater than 250; the incidence rate among elderly people is greater than 100; the percentage of intensive care beds used for coronavirus is over 30%.
"We've only been observing this crossing of the thresholds for a few hours. We need to confirm it in the next few days. If it were to be confirmed, we would have no choice but to put Paris and the inner suburbs on maximum alert, starting on Monday,” Mr Véran said, speaking in a weekly televised coronavirus update on Thursday (October 1).
“We will re-examine the indicators on Sunday with the mayor of Paris and all the elected officials concerned, and if the situation has not changed and the data is confirmed...we will take the necessary measures together from Monday."
For departments classed in the maximum alert zone, restaurants and bars have to close, as do all public places that do not have a strict hygiene protocol in place.
Currently, only Marseille / Aix-en-Provence and Guadeloup are in the maximum alert zone.
Mr Véran had more positive words for Marseille, saying that along with Nice and Bordeaux, there were “signs of improvement”.
Even if "circulation levels [of the virus] are still far too high... You have to take the signs of hope when they come, it's an encouragement to keep going, it's an encouragement to hold on".
The health minister called out five other cities, Lille, Lyon, Grenoble, Saint-Étienne and Toulouse and said that if the coronavirus situation continued to worsen there they would also be placed in the maximum alert zone next week.
Elsewhere, Corrèze, Yonne and Hautes-Alpes were upgraded from green alert to the alert zone.
Despite the fact that many departments in France are seeing a dramatic increase in the number of coronavirus cases, Mr Véran noted that the country was in a better place than it was back in March.
“We have collectively learned to fight,” he said.
“In Spring, 10 sick people were infecting 30 others after a week, today 10 sick people are infecting 13.”